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Natural Awakenings of the Coastal Carolinas

Walk for Acupuncture Awareness

by Gilda Hunt and Linda Tolentino

The North Carolina Society of Acupuncture and Asian Medicine is inviting all acupuncturists, acupuncture enthusiasts and everyone else interested in its benefits to join us from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on October 5 for our 4th annual Walk for Acupuncture Awareness to be hosted simultaneously in Wilmington and Raleigh.

The event is our largest annual fundraiser to educate the public of acupuncture’s many benefits and its importance as a vital complementary medicine in treating pain, addiction and many other chronic and acute health conditions. Proceeds are also used to both educate policy makers and to continue our work with governmental agencies, legislative bodies and corporations to make acupuncture more affordable and accessible to all North Carolinians seeking its healing powers.  Another important goal is to garner support for greater inclusion of insurance coverage and paving the way for Medicaid coverage.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, developed in China 4,000-plus years ago, is the oldest known healthcare system still globally practiced today. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that it was introduced here in the U.S. where millions have used it as part of their own personal preventative and wellness healthcare regimen. If covered by insurance and Medicaid, acupuncture could be an option to treat illnesses and pain over surgery or pain medication—full integration into the Western healthcare system. However, until recently it hasn’t been widely accepted or understood by the Western allopathic healthcare system.

Most recently, to both the public and the Western medical field, the perception of acupuncture as an “alternative” medicine has begun to change to that of a “complementary” medicine. This is largely due to technological advances in imaging and increased clinical research that have shown acupuncture eliciting biological changes that have resulted in therapeutic treatments of many different illnesses. Now, we see it offered as a complementary treatment modality alongside allopathic medicine in cancer treatment centers and hospice settings. The Veteran’s Administration has been offering acupuncture as an option in treating chronic and acute pain disorders for at least the last 15 years.  

In light of the growing opioid epidemic raging across our nation, local and federal legislators have realized that acupuncturists with Chinese medicine practitioners can treat physical, psychological pain and disease without potentially addictive prescription medications.  

Chinese medicine is rooted in the theory that the mind, body and spirit/emotions work much like a clock in that all these “parts” work together to maintain the body in an optimal state of health, to not just survive but to thrive. As with clocks, no two are exactly the same; we are all individuals. Although we may have the same disorder as a family member or friend, it’s likely the underlying weakness in our body that allowed that injury or disease to occur is very different from theirs.                        

Thus, for an acupuncture treatment to be effective when treating illness and infirmities, one must treat the individual, and his or her state of health at that moment, and include points that address all three aspects of the person simultaneously to achieve the desired outcome.

The placement of very thin needles at specific points all over the body triggers healing mechanisms and pain management systems through the release of biochemical signaling pathways, such as hormones, neurotransmitters and anti-inflammatory molecules. The body receives messages from these small, antenna-like needles to increase the circulation of blood and qi (the enigmatic force that creates and sustains life) to the tissues and organ systems affected by injury or disease, which in turn assists the body to naturally heal itself of its maladies, with minimal if any negative side effects.  

Acupuncturists are highly trained professionals that have completed a minimum of a Master’s level education in the theory and practice of acupuncture, are nationally board certified and have met the state’s licensing requirements which include strict continuing education standards. There are other medical professionals like chiropractors and physicians, and more recently PTs, that offer medical acupuncture and dry or trigger-point needling as services; yet, their training is minimal, often 200 hours or less, which are held online without in-person training. Frequently, they have little understanding of acupuncture theory and how needle placement affects the entirety of the body, not just the local area of treatment. In addition, they often employ “cookbook” protocols which fail to take the patients individual constitution into account. This lack of adequate training and understanding an lead to ineffective treatments, potential physical injury to the patient, and promotes the idea that acupuncture doesn’t work.       

It’s for these reasons that it’s important to educate the public and our legislators that licensed acupuncturists are the best qualified healthcare professionals to provide safe and effective acupuncture treatments. Most importantly, acupuncture by any other name, or performed by someone other than a licensed acupuncturist, is not really acupuncture at all.        

Doors are beginning to open to Medicaid and insurance coverage for acupuncture, but it’s up to us all, the public and acupuncturists, to push through and raise awareness, that we, the general population, want more holistic and natural options in managing our health, preventing disease, controlling pain and treating addictions. Your voice and support are key to transforming these discussions into reality, so come out and join in our efforts to mainstream acupuncture and Chinese medicine and to fully integrate it into our current healthcare paradigm.

Gilda Hunt, LAc is the owner of The Qi Spot by The Sea located at 4039 Masonboro Loop Rd., STE 1-D, Wilmington and Linda Tolentino, LAc, LMBT practices out of Cary and both are promoters for this cause. Event location: Hugh MacCrae Park, 314 Pine Grove Dr., Wilmington. Register as an individual, a team or join an existing team of walkers by visiting or See ad, page 9.  

Walk for Acupuncture Awareness - start Oct 05 2019 1000AM

Walk for Acupuncture Awareness - start: Oct 05, 2019 10:00AM

Come out and join NCSAAM’s annual Walk for Acupuncture Awareness. Proceeds from event are for raising public awareness, assisting in increased insurance coverage and patient access to acu... Read More »